Citing blight as one of the major hurdles which creates an obstacle to living and investing in Detroit, State Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) today unveiled a package of bills that will add teeth to the enforcement of blight violations, and give Michigan’s cities more tools to go after blight violations.
“I’m sick and tired of the blight in my city, and after researching the problem I realized that we need to give Detroit, and other cities throughout Michigan the ability to go after bad actors,” Virgil Smith said. “If you own property, you need to be responsible and clean it up, board it up, or tear it down.”
The five bills have bipartisan support, with Senators Smith, Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit), and Bert Johnson (D-Highland Park) each sponsoring a bill.
“If we can give municipalities the tools they need to clean up neighborhoods and improve the business climate, I’m supportive,” Rick Jones said. “Governor Rick Snyder said that Detroit needs to clean up its blight problem to become a destination place and I agree. These bills will help in that goal.”
The bills are SB 1096-1100 and will do the following:
- Clarify that failure to comply with a DAH judgment can be classified as a misdemeanor and prosecuted at district court;
- Save cities money by streamlining the lien process to ensure payment of judgments against blight violators;
- Attempt to streamline the garnishment procedure on owners who do not pay the fines following their appeal;
- Prohibit cities from issuing zoning approval to anyone with a blight violation; and
- Prohibit cities from issuing building permits to anyone with a blight violation.
“Blight can lead to crime and decay, and as people attempt to improve and strengthen their neighborhoods, I want to do what I can to help them,” Tonya Schuitmaker said.
“Blight begets blight, and property owners must take responsibility for what they own,” Bert Johnson said. “I hear too many complaints in neighborhoods of houses and buildings in disrepair – that residents end up caring for – with owners who continue acquiring other properties. These bills will limit their ability to stockpile properties without caring for the ones they already own.”
“I’m excited that we have bipartisan support for this crucial issue,” Tupac Hunter said. “I have been working for years on the foreclosure issue. Foreclosures lead to vacant properties, which leads to blight and causes our property values to plummet. We need to stop the negative spiral in our neighborhoods.”
The bills are headed to the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, which is Chaired by Senator Rick Jones.